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WWE Legends of WrestleMania review

THQ's retro smackdown yields mixed results

And Legend Killer mode is a little different. Your objective is to take a created superstar through multiple tiers of grapplers. Each tier can be seen as a gauntlet fight – battle and defeat 10 wrestlers in a row. Lose and you have to start all over. If that sounds incredibly tedious, here’s the catch: you earn experience points depending on what types of moves you pull off in the match. Complete a match with variety and you earn more points.

Once you lose, you can build up the stats of your created wrestler and start over again all hulked up. Think of Dead Rising’s leveling system. Once you died, you were able to start over with a much stronger character. Same thing here. It’s actually a pretty cool way to force us to level up our characters and forces you to strategize. Do you go for the quick win with marginal health? Or do you extend the match longer to pull off additional moves and risk losing the whole damn thing?

Above: It feels pretty good to change history

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Legends’ excellent presentation. Everything has this 80s/90s nostalgia feel, from on-screen fonts to the recreated arenas from past WrestleManias. Probably the coolest thing is the expertly crafted video packages that set up each feud before every match in the Tour mode. And of course, they’re saved once you unlock them. Another cool touch is the ability to import all of the wrestlers from SmackDown 2009 into Legends, retaining their moves and entrances, yet customized for the arcade-y controls. Have to be honest here: picking Edge versus Bam Bam Bigelow was all kinds of strange and awesome.

Showdown: Legends of Wrestling? Yup! Don’t be fooled by the extremely similar title, because these are separate franchises. While Activision’s terrible title included wrestlers you won’t see here like Macho Man and Andy Kaufman, WrestleMania isn’t a broken game. That older title had all sorts of terrible collision detection and is completely forgettable.

SmackDown 09? No way. In terms of sheer depth, strategy and robust feature design, SmackDown 09 is the best 3D wrestling game in years. Legends’ control scheme falters in comparison.

TNA Impact? Everything’s better than TNA Impact.

So here we are. Truth be told, we were put off by Legends’ quick-time event-heavy controls. Yet at the same time, we felt driven to replay matches and earn unlockables. Yes, we had fun but we griped a bunch too. Maybe the next Legends game can return to the right-analog stick action we’re so used to. Or maybe it’s we who are blinded by nostalgia.

Mar 24, 2009

More Info

DescriptionTHQ’s retro smackdown yields mixed results: quick-time event-heavy controls get tiresome, but replaying matches and going after unlockables kept us busy.
Franchise nameWWE
UK franchise nameWWE
PlatformXbox 360, PS3
US censor ratingTeen
UK censor ratingRating Pending
Release date24 March 2009 (US), 20 March 2009 (UK)